Today is the world’s first HIV Prevention Day. There are several ways to prevent the transmission of HIV, with condoms being the most widely accessible and frequently used form of HIV and STI prevention. In addition, PrEP (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis) is a pill that prevents HIV.
Today is #HIVPreventionDay – a day to highlight the need for accessible HIV preventative care and to call for an end Gilead Sciences' outrageous price gouging of PrEP.
We'll be marking today with 18 facts about HIV in Ireland, signifying the one new diagnosis here every 18 hours. pic.twitter.com/BoV9MMaMt7
— ACT UP Dublin (@ActUpDublin) July 17, 2018
On HIV Prevention Day, HIV activists around the world are highlighting the fact that Gilead, a manufacturer of PrEP (known as Truvada), is monopolising and inflating the price of the pill. PrEP should be available to anyone at risk for HIV (as recommended by the World Health Organisation) and not just those who can afford to pay for it.
At the moment in Ireland Gilead is in court trying to stop generic companies from selling more affordable versions. On HIV Prevention Day, we are demanding that Gilead drops the patent to allow fair access to this revolutionary medication.
Undetectable = Untransmittable
It should be emphasised that HIV is a treatable condition that can be managed long-term. We now know that a person living with HIV who is on effective treatment cannot pass on HIV to a sexual partner. Scientific research has proven that someone with HIV who is on antiretroviral treatment, and who has had an undetectable viral load for at least 6 months is unable to pass on HIV to a sexual partner.
This is known as U=U (Undetectable = Untransmittable). Getting tested to know your HIV status is a big part of the solution to the HIV crisis, and Government needs to commit to providing us with necessary sexual health services all around the country so people won’t be turned away when they go to get tested,
(See the below image from ACT UP Dublin for more U=U information.)
We Will Win This Fight
In Ireland there is a new HIV diagnosis every 18 hours on average, equating to over 500 new diagnoses each year. The Dublin chapter of ACT UP (the AIDS Coalition To Unleash Power) has requested to meet with Minister for Health Simon Harris multiple times to discuss what needs to be done to stop this crisis. We need more and improved sexual health services, and we need the government to prioritise sexual health services with funding.
We need PrEP to be available through the HSE so it’s more universally accessible. We need Gilead to break its patent on PrEP so cheaper versions are readily available. We need to end HIV discrimination.
This HIV Prevention Day we can all spread the U=U message – the message that a person living with HIV who is on effective treatment cannot pass on the virus. Today and every day we should call out behaviour and language that discriminates against people living with HIV. Talk to your peers about HIV prevention and what needs to be done. Together we will win this fight.
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